Tue, Oct 08, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Rudolph carried off as Steelers lose in overtime

AP, PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania

Hayden Hurst of the Baltimore Ravens, top, hurdles Joe Haden of the Pittsburgh Steelers in their NFL game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Earl Thomas saw Mason Rudolph step up in the pocket and took aim at what the Baltimore Ravens safety considered Pittsburgh quarterback’s “strike zone.”

One ugly and illegal collision later, Rudolph lay motionless on the Heinz Field turf and one of the NFL’s most bitter rivalries was reborn.

Thomas’ crunching hit to Rudolph’s chin left Rudolph with a concussion and Pittsburgh’s season in the hands of undrafted rookie free agent quarterback Devlin Hodges.

While Hodges on Sunday filled in admirably after Rudolph woozily made his way off the field and to a nearby hospital for further evaluation, the Ravens pulled out a 26-23 overtime victory that could have a significant ripple effect on both teams’ seasons.

Baltimore (3-2) snapped a two-game skid when safety Marlon Humphrey stripped Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and recovered the fumble at the Pittsburgh 34 early in the extra period.

Justin Tucker slipped a 46-yard field goal through the uprights four plays later as the Ravens won at Heinz Field for a second straight season.

“[When overtime started] I was on the sideline and I was thinking: ‘Whatever happens right now, somebody’s going to make a big play and going to be remembered forever in the outcome of this game,’” Humphrey said.

Maybe, but for all the weirdness of the game — from Lamar Jackson’s three interceptions to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s decision to kick off in overtime instead of taking the ball to another crucial late-game fumble by Smith-Schuster — it is the image of Rudolph unconscious on the turf in a silent stadium that will linger.

Trailing 17-13 and facing third-and-11 at the Pittsburgh 12 midway through the third quarter, Rudolph lined up in the shotgun and dropped back to pass.

The play broke down and Rudolph scrambled to his left, stepping up the field in the process. He flicked the ball to teammate James Washington just before the crown of Thomas’ helmet hit Rudolph under the chin.

Rudolph limply fell to the ground and laid there with his eyes closed while medical personnel rushed to attend to him.

“I was just flying to the ball like I normally do,” said Thomas, who signed with Baltimore in the off-season after becoming a perennial Pro Bowler with Seattle. “I was asking the ref what happened and they said upstairs that a part of my helmet kind of hit him in the chin, and that’s what caused the flag. I still believe that it wasn’t intentional on my part.”

Rudolph eventually came to as trainers cut off his face mask. He needed to be helped off the field by his teammates because the cart used to treat hurt players stalled.

Pittsburgh (1-4) did not fold after being forced to go with Hodges.

He completed seven of nine passes for 68 yards and also had a 21-yard sprint to set up Chris Boswell’s go-ahead field goal with 2 minutes, 41 seconds to play.

It was not quite enough to put away the Ravens.

Jackson — with the help of a roughing-the-passer call on Steelers linebacker Ola Adeniyi — moved Baltimore in range to have Tucker tie it with 14 seconds to go.

Elsewhere, the Packers coasted past the Cowboys 34-24, the Colts defeated the Chiefs 19-13, the Broncos beat the Chargers 20-13, the Raiders edged the Bears 24-21 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, the Saints sank the Buccaneers 31-24 and the Patriots routed the Redskins 33-7.

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